Premier Foods sells Robertson's and Hartley's for £200m

Hartley's jam Premier Foods is selling off some of its best known brands to cut debt

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Premier Foods has agreed a deal to sell its sweet spreads and jellies unit, including the Robertson's, Hartley's and Sun-Pat brands, to the Hain Celestial Group for £200m.

The sale, which is conditional on shareholder approval, should be completed by the end of October.

The owner of Mr Kipling and Oxo is selling off a number of brands to cut its debt levels.

In June, the group sold Sarson's vinegar and Haywards pickles.

'Major step'

Other brands included in Premier's spreads and jellies unit are Frank Cooper, Keiller and Gales.

Most of the products being sold are made in the company's Histon factory, near Cambridge, which is also being sold to Hain Celestial as part of the deal.

Premier said all employees at the site, "with the exception of a number of group employees", should be taken on by the new owner.

"This divestment is a major step forward in our strategy to simplify the business and focus on our power brands," said Premier's chief executive Michael Clarke.

"Following completion of this sale, we will have raised around £275m of the £330m disposal proceeds that we committed to achieving by June 2014."

The "power brands" the company is keeping also include Hovis, Bachelors and Sharwood's.

Job cuts

Premier, which is the country's largest food manufacturer, ran into trouble last year, partly because of a huge pension scheme deficit.

In March this year it renegotiated its bank debt and was given more time to repay £1bn of loans.

The company ran up large debts after buying up brands including Homepride and Fray Bentos.

At the beginning of this year it said it would cut 600 jobs, about 5% of its 12,000-strong workforce, to trim costs.

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